EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - "Be reconciled to God" is the chosen episcopal motto of the new Bishop of Metuchen, The Most Reverend James Francis Checchio, who concelebrated Mass at East Brunswick's St. Bartholomew's Church last week.
The energy was high, the church was packed, and the sense of a new beginning was palpable.
Checchio is the fifth Bishop of Metuchen, arriving in this position during Pope Francis' declared worldwide "Year of Mercy." “Let us not forget that God forgives and God forgives always,” Pope Francis said when announcing the year, “Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”
The new bishop and the diocese have many opportunities for congregants to celebrate this special Jubilee year, including special liturgies, increased openness, and a revivied focus on outreach to those who have felt disenfranchised by the church.
The Most Rev. James F. Checchio was named the Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen by Pope Francis on March 8, 2016. He was ordained and installed as the Fifth Bishop of Metuchen on May 3, 2016.
Bishop Checchio was born in Camden, NJ on April 21, 1966, one of four children of James and Helen Checchio. He was raised in Collingswood, where he attended St. John School, and went on to Pope Paul VI High School in Haddon Township.
Bishop Checchio was appointed a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope John Paul II in 2000, granting him the title of monsignor; and, was appointed a Prelate of Honor by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, a papal honor bestowed on diocesan priests.
Bishop Checchio received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He studied at North American College, Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Camden, N.J. on June 20, 1992 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Camden.
He holds a Masters of Business Administration Degree from LaSalle University, Philadelphia; and Doctorate of Canon Law and Bachelor of Sacred Theology degrees from the University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Rome.
Before being named Bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen, he served as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome from January 2006 to January 2016, after serving as vice rector there for two and a half years according to the Diocese of Metuchen website.
Bishop Cechhio's episcopal visit to St. Bart's was part of a "road trip" to various churches and events in the diocese as he begins his new pastoral mission to the many parishes of the Diocese of Metuchen. His heraldic shield displays a red "tongue of fire." The word Metuchen is derived from a Lenne Lenape Indian word metachen, which means "firewood. The same symbol is associated with the tongue of fire associated with the the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles at Pentecost. (Event program)